Adwoa Sakyi, president AWTG
Child labour in agriculture undermines decent work, sustainable agriculture and food security as it maintains a cycle of poverty where household income is insufficient to meet the needs of families – children work as cheap labour because their parents do not earn enough to support the family.
Child labour in agriculture takes many forms and can be seasonal or full-time. Often it is related to work within family-run business so is hard to detect. Children also work on large plantations throughout the world. The number of children working in agriculture is nearly ten times that of children involved in factory work such as garment manufacturing or carpet weaving.
Primary school enrolment rates are often lower for children who work in agriculture. Long working hours leave children exhausted and their school studies are neglected as a result, migrant workers and seasonal child farm workers have among the highest school dropout rates.
So in the AWTG, we are using June 12 as a rallying point to call on governments and employers to take measures to improve workers' wages and farmers income so that their children are not obliged to work to supplement the family income. Improving conditions for waged agricultural workers will in the long term reduce child labour. In this regard, waged agricultural workers, farmers and their organisations have a duty to ensure that decent work is achieved.
Targeting children who play an important role in the economic development is a must. Children are not only an important human resource, but also future nation builders. It is therefore imperative that they receive proper education and training in order to fulfil their future roles effectively.
These children are our future, the international community, governments and civil society must protect them.